Chili Powder Blend

Chili powder, as sold in stores, and called for in most recipes, is not simply powdered chili, but a blend of chili and other spices.


3-8 dried chilies (depending upon availability and taste, mix and match chilies like: ancho (mild); pasilla (mild); mulato (mild); New Mexico/ristra (medium); cascabel (medium); chiltepin (very hot)

1 tablespoon cumin seed

1 tablespoon coriander seed

1 tablespoon ground paprika

2 teaspoons whole cloves or allspice

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper


  • Wearing protective gloves, break up the chilies into small pieces, and remove the seeds (or leave the seeds in for a hotter and slightly bitter flavor).
  • Toast the chilies, cumin, coriander, cloves, and allspice in a dry skillet over low heat, stirring continually until you can smell the peppers (about two minutes). Depending on the size of the skillet and the amount of peppers you may need to do more than one batch.
  • When the toasted ingredients are cool, pour them into a food-processor or blender along with the other ingredients, and grind it into a powder. Do not open the food processor lid until the powder settles.
  • Store in an airtight jar.

Real Cooking

Unexpected Finding Shows Chili Powder, Pepper and Turmeric Prevent Destruction of E. coli in Tests

Researchers in India say that some common spices — red chili powder, black pepper and turmeric — can actually prevent bacteria such as E. coli from being destroyed by irradiation.

The finding that the spices protect some bacteria against irradiation was “contrary to expectations,” according to the article. “The observed protection of microbes may essentially be due to the protection of their DNA by the constituents of spices,” say the researchers. Chili offered the highest level of protection, followed by black pepper and turmeric.

“Spices potentially can offer protection to organisms against the damaging effects of gamma radiation, and also offer hope for the development of better radioprotective agents,” claims Sharma.

Two antioxidants in black pepper and turmeric — piperine and curcumin — were found to help protect the bacteria’s DNA from damage by irradiation during the study. “However,” the article notes, “these compounds may not be the sole protecting agents present in spices.”

Several other food constituents — including some proteins, fats and carbohydrates — also are known to protect microorganisms from decontamination by irradiation, as well as by heat and chemicals, says Sharma.

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